Any Dem/sudbury parents out there??? - Mothering Forums
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Other (Reggio Emilia, Sudbury, Democratic) > Any Dem/sudbury parents out there???
thisiswhatwedo's Avatar thisiswhatwedo 12:56 PM 09-07-2008
It is a new year at our school. My teen is on his second year and my 6 year old on his first. I still have a kindergartner starting at the local public school too. I'd love to hear from active democratic free school families or what is often called sudbury- families about how your year is going.
thanks,
we start tomorrow!

thisiswhatwedo's Avatar thisiswhatwedo 09:15 PM 09-08-2008
really, in Mothering there aren't any dem free schoolers????
zeldabee's Avatar zeldabee 01:16 AM 09-09-2008
My son just started at the Village Free School in Portland. He loves it so far. We've just moved to be closer to the school, so I'm a little fried. But I'm really hoping it works out well, since I don't really like any of the other schooling options out there. This is as close to unschooling as I'm going to get as a single parent, so I'm glad it's there!

This doesn't seem to be a very active forum.
tankgirl73's Avatar tankgirl73 01:29 AM 09-09-2008
I'm sure there are some, but Sudbury schools are hard to come by, so it's slim pickings to begin with.

We're homeschooling, but if there were a Sudbury school here, and we could afford it, we'd gladly give it a try. I don't know if it would be "better" than homeschooling for us, but it's just about the only type of schooling I'd even consider outside the home!

But, there's none around here at all. The closest one is 6 hours away... a bit too much of a commute.
Mirzam's Avatar Mirzam 01:58 AM 09-10-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by thisiswhatwedo View Post
really, in Mothering there aren't any dem free schoolers????



I have an almost 11 yo dd who goes to one! This is her third year, she started part-time (we were homeschooling) with two days a week, she begged for another day. Then we went to four last year and now this year she is a full-time student. She loves her school. It is tiny, with just 8 students, and only two of them are girls, but it doesn't seem to bother her.
dewlady's Avatar dewlady 09:15 AM 09-10-2008
my kids go to a free school, which is technically considered democratic, so yes? i guess they do. I see the model of their free school as pretty different than the SVS model schools that are more commonly referred to as "democratic schools." but when it comes to comparing it with waldorf, public, or other schools, i guess they are more similar.
cloudspinning's Avatar cloudspinning 09:14 PM 09-10-2008
I have two kids going to a Sudbury school (this is the beginning of their third year). My dd (10) almost invariably loves it. My ds (6) is only so-so. He has two good friends there that he will often fight/argue with and so sometimes doesn't want to go. He is also shy and usually doesn't want to go to the staff for help or comfort. I'm expecting that to change (hopefully this year!) since my dd used to be shy and sudbury has helped her with that (or she grew out of it...I do think school has helped though). It's only the third day for this year, so nothing too exciting to report yet.

cloudspinning
MommyJoia's Avatar MommyJoia 09:08 PM 09-15-2008
do I count? I'm in a sudbury startup group. We hope to have the school open next fall.
seeking sisters's Avatar seeking sisters 02:30 AM 09-16-2008
I am also in the "do I count" area because I am also a member of a "start-up" group. Our school will be located in Olympia, WA.

I have a 6yr. old and we are "unschooling" for now. We hope to have our school open fall of 09.

I've heard wonderful things about the Village Free School in Portland.
thisiswhatwedo's Avatar thisiswhatwedo 07:00 AM 09-29-2008
I am p in the middle of the night and hadn't checked in on this thread for a while. This makes me happy to hear that there are others are free-demo-sudsbury whatever you want to call it their kids.
If you look back at this ( I hope you all come back) my first big question is are you supplementing academics or are their any academics in your school? We are trying to do some academics at home and it is a bit overwhelming already one month into the school year. I want my kids to go to this school but the kids rarely pursue anything academic until they are in high school, I guess not knowing if we will be back in the public school system at some point I nervously want my kids to stay on "track". A cop out but I guess I want the best of both worlds, happy supported kids who can pursue interests but also kids who can keep up with their public school peers.
carmel23's Avatar carmel23 08:38 PM 10-06-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by thisiswhatwedo View Post
I am p in the middle of the night and hadn't checked in on this thread for a while. This makes me happy to hear that there are others are free-demo-sudsbury whatever you want to call it their kids.
If you look back at this ( I hope you all come back) my first big question is are you supplementing academics or are their any academics in your school? We are trying to do some academics at home and it is a bit overwhelming already one month into the school year. I want my kids to go to this school but the kids rarely pursue anything academic until they are in high school, I guess not knowing if we will be back in the public school system at some point I nervously want my kids to stay on "track". A cop out but I guess I want the best of both worlds, happy supported kids who can pursue interests but also kids who can keep up with their public school peers.
I have a son is would be considered highly gifted in the public schools. Right now we are homeschooling, but are considering a democratic/constructivist school... but I'm wondering what the intellectual climate is at *your* child's school? If a child is intellectually oriented, do they still fit in with the culture of the school? I mean, not a kid that wants to do work sheets all day, or needs to get grades or anything like that, but say a seven year-old who knows everything about the history of World War II, the Titanic, and loves to do math problems?

I just don't want him feeling like he has to hide himself to fit in. That you for your input!
zeldabee's Avatar zeldabee 09:32 PM 10-06-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by carmel23 View Post
I have a son is would be considered highly gifted in the public schools. Right now we are homeschooling, but are considering a democratic/constructivist school... but I'm wondering what the intellectual climate is at *your* child's school? If a child is intellectually oriented, do they still fit in with the culture of the school? I mean, not a kid that wants to do work sheets all day, or needs to get grades or anything like that, but say a seven year-old who knows everything about the history of World War II, the Titanic, and loves to do math problems?

I just don't want him feeling like he has to hide himself to fit in. That you for your input!
I think it would be perfect for a kid like that, if it's anything like the school my son's in. I don't have time to elaborate ATM, but a kid like that would probably find our school very rewarding.
carmel23's Avatar carmel23 01:41 AM 10-07-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by zeldabee View Post
I think it would be perfect for a kid like that, if it's anything like the school my son's in. I don't have time to elaborate ATM, but a kid like that would probably find our school very rewarding.
That is what I am hoping, but then I didn't know if I was just making it something that it wasn't (wishful thinkin'). Cool. That is good to hear, and please elaborate if you dare!


thisiswhatwedo's Avatar thisiswhatwedo 02:18 PM 10-18-2008
sorry I haven't gotten back here in a few weeks! time flies.
My boys school is much more creative arty and active. There is simply not enough or very little in the way of academics going on. We have our first parent meeting next week and i want to address the very lack of academics and how we can get that more of a focus w/o killing the spirit of the school. If anyone knows how other free...lets call the Summerhill schools get more of an academic focus let me know. That said most kids leave the school already having done college classes.
carmel23's Avatar carmel23 02:45 PM 10-23-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by thisiswhatwedo View Post
sorry I haven't gotten back here in a few weeks! time flies.
My boys school is much more creative arty and active. There is simply not enough or very little in the way of academics going on.
This is what I'm concerned about. My son is very academically inclined, he loves to do academic stuff beyond the basic learning how to read, and do basic math. I'd hate for the school culture to not value his intellect... although he does love art and is a good artist... Let us know how it goes.
Sharedspirit's Avatar Sharedspirit 06:35 PM 11-06-2008
My children attended a school that claimed to be a sudbury model school. I won't go into the details but they do not attend now, we are back to homeschooling.

My advice would be to ask for references from the school from parents...former and current. If I had done that it would have saved my kids from being exposed to a lot of horror.

Check the school out very carefully....especially to see if they are complying with local and state laws, including health and safety.

I love the sudbury model and follow it with our homeschooling. If you find a good school, I'd say go for it!
cloudspinning's Avatar cloudspinning 08:21 PM 11-12-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by carmel23 View Post
This is what I'm concerned about. My son is very academically inclined, he loves to do academic stuff beyond the basic learning how to read, and do basic math. I'd hate for the school culture to not value his intellect... although he does love art and is a good artist... Let us know how it goes.
I know for sure that there are at least two children at my kids' school that would be classified as "gifted" if they had ever gone to a public school. They both seem to be well liked and follow their passions (my kids are not really friends with either, although my dd is very close to sister of one of them). I'm not sure exactly how you meant value his intellect, could you expand on that? The impression I get from my kids' school is that nothing is really favored over anything else. I don't feel like art is valued over intellect...in fact, it's confusing me a bit to think about this in the context of a Sudbury school. If a child has something they are interested in, they pursue it. If they need help pursuing it, then they ask other people (staff or students) for help, be it for a quick explanation or a longer class or a field trip or a mentor relationship. It's not that there aren't classes at a Sudbury school, it is that they need to be entirely student initiated. And they only last as long as the kids are interested.

This is the part of Sudbury that many people have the most difficulty with (and I've had my moments of, "Oh crap, what are we doing here??" too.). It is something that is hard to trust, that your kids are really going to end up knowing what they need to know. I do believe that it happens, and I value the fact that the kids develop initiative and the ability to follow what interests them to the end, without having to stop and move on to some new subject they couldn't care less about.

I think if you go with a Sudbury school you have to watch your kid(s) and keep up with them (not to say that you should be hasty in changing schools, sometimes it is just a rough spot). I've known several kids who pursue outside interests via classes and other kids who arrange to go part time and other kids who graduate early because they want to move on and others who decide they want all-day classes and choose to go to a new school. Sometimes Sudbury feels amazing to me and other times I am insecure, but my kids are happy with it and often astonish me with the things they know, so we're sticking with it. I know the staff fairly well at our school and I know they are great about helping kids find information. Good luck carmel23!

Oh, and thisiswhatwedo, how is it going with your kids? Did the parent meeting go well? I am really interested in all of this, even if I don't often have time to post...

My kids are doing well so far; my 6yo ds has been playing with lots of different kids this year, not just his two close friends. This seems to have helped with his feelings of ambiguity; he rarely has days he doesn't feel like going anymore. He has already grown so much in the few short months; he is mellowing out a lot. The main problem he's having is there have been many many ghost stories travelling around, which he does NOT like. Hehe, we spend hours talking about it at home. Now we have moved on to evil fairies...help! lol He is so much like me, I can't stand scary things either (although to be honest he handles it much better than I do...).

cloudspinning
Sharedspirit's Avatar Sharedspirit 08:44 PM 11-13-2008
Have any other democratic parents been asked not to talk about the school with their children? I found this part of it impossible to deal with and didn't think it was healthy for my kids or the family.
zeldabee's Avatar zeldabee 08:55 PM 11-13-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharedspirit View Post
Have any other democratic parents been asked not to talk about the school with their children? I found this part of it impossible to deal with and didn't think it was healthy for my kids or the family.
No! That's odd. What was the rationale for that?
Mirzam's Avatar Mirzam 09:03 PM 11-13-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharedspirit View Post
Have any other democratic parents been asked not to talk about the school with their children? I found this part of it impossible to deal with and didn't think it was healthy for my kids or the family.
No. I would like to know the reasoning behind that too.
cloudspinning's Avatar cloudspinning 01:19 AM 11-14-2008
I've not heard of that either! Very odd...

cloudspinning
Sharedspirit's Avatar Sharedspirit 03:42 AM 11-17-2008
I was told that school and home should be kept seperate because it interfered with the learning process. The school staff made it very clear that alienating the children from the parents was a part of the philosophy of the school. The founder of the school told me that children knew what was best for themselves and parent's needed to let go of control.

At one point, I found out my 6 year old was being exposed to something at school that was very dangerous and illegal. When I called the school to talk to them about it, I was told that I needed to learn to trust my children and stop trying to interfer with the process. That's when I withdrew my daughter.

Has anyone else had this kind of school philosophy explained to them at a democratic school?
Mirzam's Avatar Mirzam 12:09 PM 11-17-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharedspirit View Post
I was told that school and home should be kept seperate because it interfered with the learning process. The school staff made it very clear that alienating the children from the parents was a part of the philosophy of the school. The founder of the school told me that children knew what was best for themselves and parent's needed to let go of control.

At one point, I found out my 6 year old was being exposed to something at school that was very dangerous and illegal. When I called the school to talk to them about it, I was told that I needed to learn to trust my children and stop trying to interfer with the process. That's when I withdrew my daughter.

Has anyone else had this kind of school philosophy explained to them at a democratic school?
No. Nothing like this ever occurs at DD's school. We have regular meetings with her teacher and all school meeting with students and parents, teacher and director once a month. One of the points of discussion that often comes up is trusting the children to learn, but never is the solution to butt out and let them just get on with it.
Sharedspirit's Avatar Sharedspirit 04:37 PM 11-17-2008
That was how I understood the philosophy, but it wasn't practiced that way at the school my daughters were in. I think it's really important to check out the school's carefully before enrolling. I love the sudbury model but if it's preached, but not practiced, it's worse than most public schools!

Children of all ages were allowed to leave the school whenever they wanted. The staff of the school didn't feel that it was their responsibility to keep the children safe. I've done a lot of reading about the sudbury model and have found that some schools claim to be democratic or a sudbury model but in practice they aren't.

It sounds like your school is what I was looking for. But where I live, there are no options like that for us. So we are back to unschooling. The hardest part is socialization. I live in a very rural area and there aren't a lot of opportunities for families to get together. I'd like to start a coop but there aren't that many families homeschooling here either.
Dahlia's Avatar Dahlia 08:23 AM 11-22-2008
Hi I'm new on this thread..
I live in Israel and we sen dour children to a democratic school. I was told that it is considered a free school in the US. I have actually never heard of a sudbury school and am very interested to know more about it. Our school has been around for about 10 years and is quite large today. It is very structured for a democratic school and that has evolved through the years...structure changing as school has expanded and rules changing as new families have entered bringing in new ideas and questioning all kinds of aspects then trying to change them through parliament and such. Imo it is getting too structured and evolving from a democratic school to something that I can't even define which saddens me. Unfortunately there aren't many other options around here and public school is out of the question. Unschooling is also not an option for us (well for my husband and I) and so we are staying put and trying to do what we can with what we have.
There is a lot of learning going on wether it be formal or through play, cooking, sport etc... so I am not worried about that and I see that I am always pleasantly surprised by their choices, and their ability to take responsibility for the choices they make. I feel that the guidance and attention to their personal need is met quite well, and owe as parents are an integral part of the school and process.

Anyhow I would love to hear more about democratic/free schools in the US and how the schools evolve through the years.
thisiswhatwedo's Avatar thisiswhatwedo 10:44 PM 11-22-2008
Hey I haven't checked this thread in a while. My boys are doing great at their school. (BTW- Dalia, Sudbury is a democratic school and I'm not sure how that got to be the popular term for these schools any one get this?)
We still are supplementing the academics as I am not really willing to completely let go of this. I love the school but do wish it had more classes offered on math and science, alas it is requested by the kids to have more of an art focus. My youngest son is doing well but I will be signing him up for science classes this winter.
My oldest son is struggling to focus on his online learning that I am forcing on him. Socially he has finally started to feel comfortable in his own skin. The kids at school stay busy and happy all day. The positive energy they create is awe inspiring. Something you never see at mainstream schools.
I still feel a bit tossed up between letting them do what they want and forcing academics on them. If I was to say why it is my fear of them having a viable future as I am not a money earner and have no husband. If I was wealthy enough to pay for them to be middle class I wouldn't worry so much about what they spent their time doing. This goes into a philosophy of class that I should explain more but won't bore you with.
As far as being "gifted" that truly is a misnomer in public schools. As a former employee that made decisions about who was gifted I have come to realize that Gifted is a term most school districts use for middleclass/upper middle class student (usually white) who's parents want more challenging academics so that their kids can be considered for better colleges. It almost always means more homework. It should be clarified as "academically gifted". Truly gifted kids are a dime a dozen at free schools because they are free to pursue their passion and talent. If you have a child that is self directed, intelligent can pose questions and seek answers then she/he is probably a good fit for a free school.
I really want to tour some of the other democratic schools and see how ours compares. I was thinking of asking one of the teachers if they want to do a road trip this spring break.
Anyhow, last comment about the school asking for the parent to not ask their kids any questions...I think I'd pull my kids out.
Our school asks us to be as big a part of their day as possible. This school has been around for thirty years so they are doing something right.
Keep chatting I will stop back more often!
thisiswhatwedo's Avatar thisiswhatwedo 10:46 PM 11-22-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharedspirit View Post
I was told that school and home should be kept seperate because it interfered with the learning process. The school staff made it very clear that alienating the children from the parents was a part of the philosophy of the school. The founder of the school told me that children knew what was best for themselves and parent's needed to let go of control.

At one point, I found out my 6 year old was being exposed to something at school that was very dangerous and illegal. When I called the school to talk to them about it, I was told that I needed to learn to trust my children and stop trying to interfer with the process. That's when I withdrew my daughter.

Has anyone else had this kind of school philosophy explained to them at a democratic school?
Hey I just want to comment again on how freakin' suspicious I am of this school. Dem. schools really want the families to be a part of the community. Really this sends up some red flags, do you care to tell us what school this is?
Sharedspirit's Avatar Sharedspirit 01:00 AM 11-23-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by thisiswhatwedo View Post
Hey I just want to comment again on how freakin' suspicious I am of this school. Dem. schools really want the families to be a part of the community. Really this sends up some red flags, do you care to tell us what school this is?

It sent up red flags for me when I found out. It was very covert from the beginning. I still feel very guilty for putting my kids through it. I withdrew the children as soon as I found out what was going out. Other parents withdrew their children also.

Your Dem school sounds exactly what I was looking for. I spoke with a lot of people and did a ton of research on the democratic model. I should have spent equal time researching the specific school.


I live in West Virginia, and there is only one Dem school to choose from. If another Dem school was available, I would check it out very carefully. If they really followed the Sudbury Model, I'd send my children in a heartbeat! I really think the model works and the original Sudbury school has proven it.
Sharedspirit's Avatar Sharedspirit 01:06 AM 11-23-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dahlia View Post
Hi I'm new on this thread..
I live in Israel and we sen dour children to a democratic school. I was told that it is considered a free school in the US. I have actually never heard of a sudbury school and am very interested to know more about it. Our school has been around for about 10 years and is quite large today. It is very structured for a democratic school and that has evolved through the years...structure changing as school has expanded and rules changing as new families have entered bringing in new ideas and questioning all kinds of aspects then trying to change them through parliament and such. Imo it is getting too structured and evolving from a democratic school to something that I can't even define which saddens me. Unfortunately there aren't many other options around here and public school is out of the question. Unschooling is also not an option for us (well for my husband and I) and so we are staying put and trying to do what we can with what we have.
There is a lot of learning going on wether it be formal or through play, cooking, sport etc... so I am not worried about that and I see that I am always pleasantly surprised by their choices, and their ability to take responsibility for the choices they make. I feel that the guidance and attention to their personal need is met quite well, and owe as parents are an integral part of the school and process.

Anyhow I would love to hear more about democratic/free schools in the US and how the schools evolve through the years.
Do you have a Democratic or a Free school near you? Children learn best through play...so do adults! I'd recommend checking out the school if you do have one close.
Dahlia's Avatar Dahlia 03:19 AM 11-23-2008
My children are in a Democratic school and there are 2 more in surrounding towns. I was just writing about how our school is evolving and I feel like it may becoming too mainstream. The children get to choose their classes and every year more academic classes are offered in place of other "play" classes. I used to think that was good, but now I am wondering .....
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